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« Bailing out the yachts | Main | Invisible man »

Sep 27, 2009


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Well said.. This really is the right question: "(Do) we have a government by the people and for the people, or one that serves corporations, often at our expense."

So many of our economic sectors are dominated by a very few corporations. Undiscriminating enthusiam for the market as an idealized principle simply increases the ability of those corporations to thwart the market. For example, in many states, single health insurers overwhelmingly dominate their markets. Those supporting a market-centric approach to health care reform should be aggressively promoting approaches to end that domination of the market and open up competition.

The GOP seems to lack the intellectual will to confront this issue. Many Dems have the intellectual will, but too few have the political will to act.

Threats to the market come in other areas. Allowing the market to flourish in industries that seem naturally to move toward monopoly or oligopoly is another challenge. In a global technological econony, many desirable goods and services seem to be most efficiently provided by a very small number of very large and domineering corporations. Consider Microsoft, Intel, Google, etc. It's unlikely that the goods and services these corporations provide could be sold at prices agreeable to most consumers if they were broken up into many more market-amenable pieces. Indeed, most of us seem to welcome the de facto standards and ubiquity fostered by this flavor of corporate market control.


Right on, Ed!

John D. Young

Ed, excellent piece! Your comments are a clear statement of our current dilemma.

It remains astounding that many millions who are constantly struggling in this harsh economic environment continue to place far more faith in the power of corporations than in governmental safety net programs. I lived in Canada for several years when my ex-wife was in a graduate school program at the University of Toronto. A week after we arrived we received a Canadian Government Health Care Card. During our several years in Toronto we could visit any doctor and received quick and excellent health care. I had a friend who recently was in Paris and got very sick while staying with friends at their apartment. They called a doctor who arrived within an hour to treat her at their apartment.

Good health care for all must be part of our government safety net if we value each other as members of our community, state and nation. Our obligation to care for the sick and injured, rooted within or religious traditions, remains a core moral demand for many of us. Money for that medical safety net is readily available if we can ever change our obscene priorities. Our current massive treasury waste from our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and our corporate welfare for Wall Street and the auto companies are examples of our recent failure to prioritize our limited resources.

Obama and the Democrats have so far failed to give many of us the change we were seeking. It appears that we again have basically a one party system that favors corporate welfare programs over essential and competing social needs.

Reggie Greene / The Logistician

Very well organized and well articulated discussion Ed.

I'm going to come at the issue a little differently. Every individual or group of individuals has "interests" which they try to advance.

As a general proposition, all individuals and groups operate pursuant to a simple operating principle, WIIFM, What's In It for Me. It's the nature of the beast. It insures promotes survival.

Corporations are designed to survive by making profits, and so they have to be profit driven, and not societal interest driven. To the extent that they consider society's interests, it is to help the bottom line.

Probably the most important thing in any society is the creation and maintenance of JOBS. If a society has decent jobs, virtually all other aspects of life improve.

If there is a reason (and I'm not saying it should be controlling) to give corporations inordinate influence in our society, it is to encourage the development and maintenance of jobs. Consequently, I understand the influence which corporations have.

What is amazing is that so many feel that whatever the corporations do to promote their interests, will necessarily derivatively flow to the masses of working people in some coordinated, even handed, and fair fashion. That's sheer science fiction. The nature of the model is messy.

What is even more amazing is that so many attack entities (whether they be governmental or non-profit in nature) that actually try to promote the interests of the average working person or citizen, and demonize them for their efforts, as if some balancing or counterbalancing force is unnecessary.

On a school playground, if there is only one bully, there will always be problems. There needs to be at least two opposing bullies for peace to exist, which derivatively flows to the benefit of the other kids.


[[Probably the most important thing in any society is the creation and maintenance of JOBS. If a society has decent jobs, virtually all other aspects of life improve. If there is a reason (and I'm not saying it should be controlling) to give corporations inordinate influence in our society, it is to encourage the development and maintenance of jobs.]]

Well said, Reggie; however, the ostensible purpose of a corporation is to maximize shareholder value, and doing so frequently requires destroying jobs rather than creating them. Few people care to acknowledge that fact; fewer care to grapple with its nuanced ramifications in nuanced ways. But until we do, widespread prosperity will remain elusive.

Reggie Greene / The Logistician

Lex: You and I are in complete 100% agreement. We as a society have chosen what I refer to as the herding cats governance model. We let people and entities essentially do whatever they want to do in the name of freedom. However, the flip side of that is that there is little coordination, planning, and consistency under this model.

We can't have it both ways. I can't imagine anything less efficient than generally letting people do what they want to do. The model may work on occasion and for a period of time; however, to expect that it will rule supreme indefinitely is ridiculous.


Our constitution is designed to protect the rights of citizens. Corporations, from their origin, are constructs of governments. They are endowed with rights by their creator, but their creator is us - government by the people.

It will be interesting to see how the supreme court rules on the Hillary movie case. Does the Bill of Rights apply to corporations absolutely?

Not all corporations are organized to maximize shareholder value - non-profits. Others are organized to limit lawsuit liability.

Corporations are not at all worried about maximizing the total number of jobs in a nation/state, their concern is with their own market share. Also, they don't really care about jobs, just profits.

MSFT, INTC, & GOOG are not monopolies, AAPL, AMD, & YHOO would beg to differ.

Congress builds way too many exceptions, exemptions & earmarks into bills. The rules are too complicated. Start with the tax system - it doesn't take much to create a very complicated return. And that's just the individual tax law - corporate law is even worse!

The way banks have gotten kid glove treatment is extremely discouraging to this Obama donor. I also did not totally like the GM bailout...initially. When I viewed it through the lens of a more organized bankruptcy and reorg, it was understandable. I don't see banks changing their SOP, and it is obvious that they need to.

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